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Spanish Fork clinches Region 9 title with blowout of Wasatch

By Darnell Dickson - | May 6, 2022
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Spanish Fork's Brody Duvall (left) dives back to first base as Jackson Sorenson of Wasatch tries to field the ball during a Region 9 baseball game on Friday, May 6, 2022.
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Spanish Fork's Zac Dart (center) is greeted by teammates after coming off the field during a Region 9 baseball game against Wasatch on Friday, May 6, 2022.
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Spanish Fork's Ty Creer waits for a fly ball in center field during a Region 9 baseball game against Wasatch on Friday, May 6, 2022.
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Jack Bluth of Wasatch takes a swing during an at-bat against Spanish Fork in a Region 9 baseball game on Friday, May 6, 2022.
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Spanish Fork's Zac Dart delivers a pitch during a Region 9 baseball game against Wasatch on Friday, May 6, 2022.
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Spanish Fork's Easton Romero takes a swing during a Region 9 baseball game against Wasatch on Friday, May 6, 2022.

 

The RPI era in Utah high school sports has changed the impact of winning a region title.

But it still means something.

The Spanish Fork baseball team clinched the Region 9 title on Friday, jumping out to a 8-0 lead against Wasatch and finishing off a six-inning 11-1 victory. Dons coach Casey Nelson said it was just his second region crown in eight seasons at the helm so he knows how difficult it is to win.

“It just shows what type of team we have,” Nelson said. “We have really good depth this year. Pitching and defense wins championships and hopefully you get some timely hits. We’ve won every series in region and swept a couple. We want to be region champs and win each series. That’s kind of our process and kudos to our guys getting it done.”

The Wasps ended Spanish Fork’s eight-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Thursday but the Dons jumped into the lead early in Friday’s contest. The Spanish Fork bench likes to chant “Free 90!” (90 meaning 90 feet from home plate to first base) whenever one of their teammates gets a free base due to a walk or getting hit by a pitch. That chant was a frequent refrain on Friday as Wasatch pitchers issued nine walks and hit three batters.

Three straight walks to open the bottom of the first loaded the bases for the Dons and prompted a quick pitching change for the visitors. Mitch Dalton walked to bring in the first run of the game and Spanish Fork scored six in the frame, including an RBI double from Dax Bringhurst and a two-run single from Bryton Asay.

The Dons added two more runs in the second. Easton Romero had an RBI single and Bringhurst brought in another run with a sacrifice fly for an 8-0 advantage.

“Getting to the other team’s bullpen has been one of our main goals this year,” said Romero, who has committed to BYU. “We started off early with getting three guys on base and we just kept going.”

Leading 9-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, Spanish Fork made it 10-1 when Zac Dart walked with the bases loaded. A Bringhurst single drove in a run for an 11-1 victory with the game ending due to the 10-run rule.

Dart went five innings on the mound, allowing four hits and striking out seven to earn the win.

Spanish Fork (21-4, 13-2) came into the week No. 1 in the Class 5A RPI and will likely be in that same spot to begin next week’s state tournament. Last season, the Dons were the No. 7 seed but ended up winning the state title.

“We’re in a good place,” Nelson said. “We lost yesterday to Wasatch but it was a great baseball game. Wasatch is a really good team and they’re going to make some noise in the state tournament. I hope we get to see those guys again.

But I don’t know if it really means anything with seeding because everybody gets that bye one through eight. One of our goals was to just get one of the top eight seeds for the tournament. We definitely have got a targets on our backs. I like the confidence we have, but it’s not a cocky confidence. It’s just that the guys have a lot of confidence in each other.”

Wasatch finishes the season 13-12 overall and 10-5 in Region 9.

The Utah High School Activities Association will release the final RPI on May 12, with the state tournament beginning the next day with play-in games. For the second consecutive season, the tournament will be a mixture of double elimination and a best-of-three format. The 5A tournament concluded May 27 and 28 at Utah Valley University.

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